By Sgt. Giancarlo Casem, 11th ACR Public AffairsMay 21, 2009
The 51st Tactical Interpreter Company "Jackals" welcomed home five of their Soldiers during a celebration at the language lab on Fort Irwin, Calif., May 19.
As the five Soldiers filed in to the language lab, they were greeted by their fellow Jackals with applause and loud whooping and cheering; a reception fit for heroes.
"It feels awesome, there are really no words that can describe being welcomed home, we try to let them know that they are appreciated for what they've done and their sacrifice and they weren't forgotten," said 1st Lt. David Strahl, the 51st TICO commander.
He welcomed home the five Soldiers who were the first to deploy from the unit back in January.
The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment's 51st TICO serves as the Army's first and only Interpreter Company. The five Solders all served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Soldiers primarily served with the 75th Ranger Regiment.
The 51st TICO is currently the only unit of its type in the Army. Manned by Soldiers with the Military Occupational Specialty 09L, the 51st TICO provides native and "heritage" speakers of the languages that the Army considers most important for current missions.
As part of the 11th ACR, the 51st TICO assists in the National Training Center's mission to train and prepare Soldiers for combat. The TICO provides translators to units that training to help them prepare for working with translators when they deploy.
The five Soldiers who deployed were one of the first Soldiers to join the unit when it was stood up back in October.
"That's what we sign up for, we deployed and came back safe," said Sgt. Yosef Hassan, one of the five returning Soldiers. "I'm glad that I made it back home, I wish I could stay longer, if they gave me the chance to go back again, I would go."
The Soldiers received awards for their actions in Iraq. However, it was not just the Soldiers who were honored; their families were also given certificates and flowers to thank them for their support. 1st Strahl wanted to thank the Soldiers' Families because he understood they sacrifices and hard work that they also endured.
"I get choked up, because I realized after I deployed how tough it is on them as it is on the service member," Strahl said.
He also said that it was important to provide support for the families of deployed Soldiers.
"It lets the Soldiers have a peace of mind that their families are taken care of and they don't have to worry about what's going on back there on the homeland," he said. "We let their families that are here know that there is someone they can turn to for help."
Hassan and his Soldiers all agreed that while they are happy to be home, they would like to deploy again as soon as they are able to. Hassan said his plans would focus on him trying to deploy again.
"I'm going to train, go out to the 'box,' to get ready to go deploy again," he said.
The native of Portland, Ore., was actually born in the U.S., but grew up in Egypt after his family emigrated there when he was 6 years-old. For Hassan, joining the Army was an easy decision to make.
"I was born in Oregon, I grew up in Egypt, I left the states when I was almost 7," he said. "When I was a kid, I grew up watching American movies and I knew I wanted to join the Army."
He, like many of the Soldiers of the TICO, believes in their mission and the service that they provide is truly making a difference.
"I'd rather deploy and help. We all joined to help." Hassan said. "Anyone in our military is our people, is our family, and I want to help them. If I'm helping someone, I'm helping my brother. We have the same flag, the same uniform, we both have U.S. Army over our heart, mine doesn't say Egyptian Army."